978-0-676-54304-9 / 9780676543049

Love is a Racket Signed "First Edition"





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About the book:

At several points Love Is a Racket is outright offensive in its depiction of Jeffty Kittridge's Hollywood skid-row world. Yet, Jeffty's narrative voice is so compelling, so real, that you want to know how he makes out.

The novel begins with Ty--a heavy working for the local loan shark, Dumas--breaking Jeffty's fingers. The fingers become a symbol of Jeffty's relentless bad luck as he tries and fails time and again to make the $15,000 he owes Dumas. Years ago, the reader discovers, Jeffty had come to Hollywood as an aspiring scriptwriter (a life that Jonathan Ridley lived, ultimately writing episodes of Martin, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and The John Laroquette Show), but he now declares himself a grifter, a gambler, and, gradually, a drunk. Several roads to salvation emerge in Jeffty's nightmare life. At one point, it seems that a day at the races just might erase his debts. His "friend," Nellis, reappears at another moment--a junkie and, strangely, a master of Zen poker who hopes to win Jeffty's money for him. And, finally, Mona, an attractive young homeless woman, keeps showing up until Jeffty realizes that she is his last chance for escape.

Despite its grim subject matter, the book is sexy and often outright funny. ("My good luck was LA's a great place to work. Except for the smog and the gang violence, the brushfires in summer, the rain and floods in the winter, it's great.") Ridley injects bits of Eastern mysticism and icy realism to suggest a deeper truth behind Jeffty's tragicomic fašade. While it's not a book for the overly sensitive, it is a masterpiece of noir black comedy that recalls Elmore Leonard's best writing. --Patrick O'Kelley

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